Drivel Part The Second: The Rest Of My Life

Readers, it’s time for part two of my drivel post.  Part the first had me talking about the Games.  This part is supposed to encapsulate Everything Else.

I took a road trip with Aisling

I’ve been doing two jobs lately, which has been a bit much on top of everything else.  And so I spent the weekend with Aisling who sorted out my life for me.  To quote Clare: Aisling is like Mary Poppins in a Bambi jumper.  (Aisling does actually own a jumper with Bambi on it).  There was, of course, Any Other Party, and then there was an epic road trip to Robin Hood Country for the L-Sten’s 30th birthday party.  I won’t give away too much about it as I’m sure Lucy will want to write it up on her blog, but highlights of the trip included:   

1) Accepting that saying no is sometimes an acceptable answer.  It will not cause the universe to go into freefall if I say I can’t take something on.  Apparently.  I’ll get back to you on that one. 

2) Aisling waking up at 6am and accusing me, loudly, of Making Lists.  I assure you all, I wasn’t.   

3)  Aisling: “Your default setting is slutty”.  Me: “It’s the hair.  Is really hard to look chaste with va-va-voom hair”

4) I like men in flat caps

5) Aisling and I crying at Lucy’s speech and then having Husband Envy (it’s a medical condition) as we saw husbands SWING DANCING with their wives.    

5)  Similarly to 1), apparently slowing down and taking care of yourself is sometimes more  important than pleasing other people.  I have a Life Plan, folks.  And it involves slowing the hell down. 

6) We want to run AOW B&B, where we pay no heed to fashionable interiors.  We may actually take on Pat, as our consultant.  Pat ran the B&B at which we stayed in Nottingham on Saturday night.  It was like something straight out of 1978.  There was swirly pink and green wallpaper, and a “hairdryer on request”.  There was a picture of the Queen by the breakfast buffet, and ceramic polar bears on the window sill.  Neither of us have ever stayed anywhere nicer.  We both stood  by the window and watched Pat’s husband drive a tractor for twelve minutes.  He wore braces. 

7) This exchange of text messages, prior to meeting Aisling at Waterloo:

Me: The Clarence is a 15 minute walk from Waterloo.  We can always pop into a pub and hyperventilate together en route?

A: That is what I want to do.  See you at 4.50.

Me: I’ll be the one in crotch-skimming red.

A: Can you pout?  I might not recognise you.

Me: Pouting in a minidress at a train station.  That won’t cause me problems.

A: Awesome.  I’ll be the one with eye bags and questionable abdominal circumference.

Me: Does this mean I’ll look thinner than you?  Awesome. 

A: Glad to be of service

Me: Getting pregnant was a really elaborate way of boosting my self-esteem.  You could have just bought me Spanx.

A: But this way,  everybody wins!  Eventually. 

We made our home more homely.

Mr K’s work friends chipped in together and bought us a barbecue.  I know.  A barbecue.  It sits on our decking and has its own little cover.  We have, so far, used it three times with varying degrees of success.  Halloumi on the barbecue is the greatest thing I have ever put in my mouth.  Once, it rained, and my endearing image of the house so far has been looking our the sliding doors to see Mr K barbecuing with one hand, holding an umbrella with the other, grimly turning the corn on the cob with tongs. 

We had a Sainsbury’s delivery before the barbecue.  I unpacked a table cloth.  To be precise, a polka-dotted table cloth.

“I thought it would make the house look nicer than the plain white one”, said Mr K. 

“It’s lovely” I said, heart melting.

“It was a really difficult decision.  It was the more expensive table cloth.”

I got fit again.

Well, sort of.  Not fit exactly, but definitely a bit stronger.  I have discovered that I love running in the forest.  When you turn the corner and dip through the gap in the hedges, it’s like you’re entering another world, full of green and light and half-light.  It smells alive.  You have to avoid tree roots and low-hanging branches and stick to the trails.  Sometimes you come across animals, and small lakes.  Epping Forest isn’t wide, but it is long, and if you run for long enough you come out onto great swathes of grassland surrounded by trees and you feel like the only person who ever saw it.  Sometimes I close my eyes and run.  Although the last time I did that I tripped and scraped both knees.  But for the nanosecond when I was upright, it was like flying.      

Great Aunty Barbara

Those of you who were at Friday’s Any Other Party will have noticed that I left a bit early and didn’t seem myself.  My Great Aunty Barbara had been admitted to hospital the day before.  I spent a lot of time with her, over the last few years, visiting her often and she told me her stories; I wrote one of them up for the blog.  She had Alzheimer’s and a myriad of other illnesses.  The day of Any Other Party, I’d spent most of the day with her.  We had twenty minutes where she recognised who I was.  She stroked my face and held my hands and cried a lot. 

Apparently, in the ambulance when she was admitted to hospital, she asked the paramedics whether they were single. 

“I am”, one of them said.

“I’ll be back later.  Alone” she said.

Never one to miss a trick, was Great Aunty B.  Even with an oxygen mask on her face.  She was 90.   

I held her hand for a really long time on Sunday.  She didn’t recognise me and she wasn’t responsive, but she did look peaceful.  I stayed until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more.  She died a few hours later.  

Aunty B, you were a battleaxe and a remarkable person.  You taught me it is possible to be both.  You never did excessive sentiment, but you aren’t here to tell me off so here goes; I will miss you more than you could ever imagine.

Categories: Life Experience, Written By Anna
27 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Carly
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    I am so sorry to hear that Anna. Sending huge hugs over cyberspace.


  2. Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Oh, Anna- So sorry to hear about great Aunty B. I’m pleased you got to be with her at the end, so many old people don’t have that and she will have known you were there, even if she hadn’t recognised you in the day.

    What terrible timing for the party! You were still completely awesome brave lady x

  3. Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    I actually feel as thought Great Aunty Barbara was and is one of the founding members of the AOW family. Much love to you K, sending you strength.

    Glad to hear you’re reprioritising. Take time for you.


  4. Posted September 18, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    So sorry about Great Auntie Barbara. She sounds like she was an truly amazing woman! ‘The rest of your life’ certainly sounds like it’s keeping you occupied and the non-work stuff all sounds pretty blissful! :)

  5. Alex
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Aw I’m so sorry to hear about your Auntie B, she sounded a fabulous lady and I bet she was so happy you spent so much time with her.

    Love the drivel posts, and love the convo with Aisling!! Laughed out loud a little bit. Weird when your alone.

    You did good getting three BBQ’s this summer, hope you have lots more next year!!

    And the running sounds blissful, really wish my outdoor forest run was passable in the wet weather, alas it turns into a sludgy mess that consists of a Sally Gunnell impersonation hurdling puddles!! Not cracking!


  6. Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Anna, you are one of the strongest ladies I have ever come across. It is now slightly more apparent where you get that from. Your aunty sounds amazing. I’m sure that 20mins when she recognised you was precious.

    And the place you ladies stayed at in Nottingham sounds freakily like the hotel I was staying at in Blackpool the same night (girly night for friend’s 30th), which involved curtains with royal crests printed on them (crests, I tell you!) and the most elaborate chipboard dressing table…

  7. Frances
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Very sorry to hear about your Auntie B, she will have been glad that you were there to hold her hand.

    I do love Epping Forest, particularly in the Autumn when the trees are just red and gold and look so bright even against a leaden November sky *starts looking for houses*

  8. Crysta
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    So sorry to hear about your Great Aunty Barbara. I’m glad you could spend that time with her on Friday, and say goodbye on Sunday.

    And yes to learning to say no! My inability to do so, and my inability to put myself first is why I, too, have two jobs and spend my Saturday afternoons asleep or unable to get out of bed for 2 hours. It’s not a healthy way to live.

    Your running route sounds wonderful. Far nicer than pounding concrete streets and running around pedestrians.

  9. Chirsty
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I love the drivel posts.
    AOW has a tendency to bring out a lot of emotions in me but I think in this one gave the full ’4 seasons in 1 day’: laughed out loud (yup, on a train in serious work mode) at the text convo, got a bit deep and thoughtful on the reprioritising notion, got lost in a damp earthy green wood for a mo….
    Then welled up completely at the end. I am so sorry about your great aunty B. What an awesome sounding woman.
    I thought you were fab when I got to meet you the other evening but in light of all that your strength and fabulousness has trebled. Hope you’re OK. X

    Ps “it’s really hard to look chaste with va-va-voom hair” Quote of the year!

  10. Vivienne
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    So sorry to hear about your Great Aunty B. She will have been undoubtedly proud of her less than chaste haired great niece.

    Can I just say that a AOW B&B sounds like an AMAZING idea. With chintz, cats and floral bedsheets that were last seen in the seventies please!

  11. Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about your Great Aunt, but glad you got the chance to say goodbye. Alzheimers is hard.
    On the happier side, I would totally stay at AOB&B, as long as the breakfast is good!

  12. Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I feel I should clarify a couple of points… I didn’t mean ‘slutty’ as in ‘slutty’ just ‘slutty’ as in ‘pouts a lot’… Ahem.

    Also, she might not have been making lists at 6am but she WAS drafting an email. So there.

    Great Aunty B was and will remain, supremely proud of you, K. Just like me.

    Love you muchly xx

  13. Zan
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Oh Anna…so sorry to hear about your Great Aunty Barbara – sending some hugs over t’internet **hugs**. She always sounded like a fabulous woman.

    That text exchange is hilarious – just been sniggering at my desk for a good few mins at that! :)

  14. Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry about your Aunty Barbara, Alzheimers is a horrible disease.

    On a happier note I snorted tea out my nose when I read about you trying to fly while you were running. Sounds exactly like the kind of thing I would do :-)

  15. Steff
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I love these posts, little glimpses into the behind the scenes of AOW towers. Giggled to myself about your pre-AOP shenanigans, felt envious of your running in the woods (even though I hate running with a burning passion!), nodding at BBQ’ing in the rain (it’s a standard state of affairs for us being in the Borders) and totally welling up at the thought of Aunty B.

    A lovely post and an outstanding tribute to what sounds like an utterly amazing woman. You’ve done her proud luv xx

  16. Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Oh Anna, the lady in the crotch skimming frock with sexy hair and a heavy heart, I am so sorry to hear about Barbara. She has left a marvellous legacy in you. Look at the way you write, the way you see and feel. That bit about running made me feel alive. Keep doing that, keep going. With or without bbq food. I vote with though.

    It was truly special to party with you on Saturday night. Tom seconds that. With wide eyes.

  17. Posted September 18, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Oh Anna, I’m so sorry to hear about Great Aunty Barbara. Hope you’re doing okay. x

  18. Katielase
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    As ever, your drivel is quite the most life-affirming drivel of anyone I have ever known. My thoughts are with you, but as many have said above me Great Aunty Barbara would be so goddamn proud of you, you’re an astonishing woman.

    Also, you inspired me to go and run by the river this morning. See? Life-affirming.

    K xx

  19. Posted September 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    This is a perfect post encompassing all the ‘seasons’ as Chirsty mentioned above. Such a stunning piece of writing. So very sad for your loss – feeling tearful and it reminds me to make the most of every day.

  20. Posted September 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    You’re all incredible. Thank you. I will respond to every email and text I received today but wanted to say thank you for your support and thank you for being so lovely about my writing!


  21. Sharon
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Amazing post , sending you love x

  22. Rose
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt, she sounds wonderful x

  23. Roz
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to hear about Great Aunty Barbara, sending you hugs xx

  24. Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Anna, once again I maintain that this is absolute top drawer drivel, and I truly am sorry for your loss. If you can write this excellently with such a heavy heart then you’ve done Aunty B proud. Keep running and the skirts crotch skimming and all will seem better in the end.

    L x

  25. Posted September 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Anna, I still maintain that this is absolutely quality top drawer drivel, and I am truly sorry for your loss. Keep running and skirts crotch skimming and you’ll be doing Aunty B proud :)


  26. Yanthe
    Posted September 19, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Oh Anna. I’m so so sorry about your Aunty Barbara. I held my Grandfather’s hand as he passed away a few weeks ago and reading this has very much brought it back. I’m sure it meant the world to her to have seen you that day and to have shared such precious time with you. You have described it so eloquently in a way I don’t think I will ever be able to and I am full of admiration.

    Sad bits aside – that text exchange had me laughing. What a roller-coaster of emotions this post is!

One Trackback

  • By Weekend Wonderings on September 22, 2012 at 7:02 am

    [...] I’m bringing you one of my favourite discoveries.  It’s inspired by Pat’s 1970s B&B.  It’s called Subversive Cross Stitch.   There’s a lot of swearing in the kits [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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